CANDIA — Despite her fellow board members expressing happiness with next year's $2 million proposed budget, Select Board member Amanda Soares said that she is unhappy with how much money the Police Department and the Smyth Memorial Building are set to get.
Soares said that she believes Police Chief Mike McGillen needs to prioritize his wants and needs better in his proposed $600,000 budget, and that board member Carleton Robie should not have proposed $10,000 being added to the budget for repairs to the Smyth Memorial Building.
"Last year, the warrant article asking voters for $160,000 to fix the building was voted down by hundreds of votes. I felt the way Robie and the rest of the board put the $10,000 (in) was deceiving the voters. It is not an appropriate place to put the money, do not put it in the budget, put it in a warrant article and let the residents vote on it," Soares said.
"McGillen just got a new officer, and now he is talking about a new cruiser. He really needs to find out what his needs are as opposed to his wants," Soares said.
At $666,313, the proposed police department budget would be an increase of about $12,000 over the current operating budget.
"We filled a vacancy with a much-needed officer. This is not a newly created position; it never was. And we appreciate the board support to get the officer hired," McGillen said.
McGillen also said that the $12,000 added to the police budget for a new cruiser was an important move because despite the addition of two vehicles over the last two years, the department's fleet is aging.
"This way the money is there, so we won't buy a new one this year, but we will ask for the rest of the money for a new cruiser the year after," McGillen said.
Soares said that she often feels like the lone voice on the board trying to find ways to bring the budget down. She said she thinks the budget should be decreasing, not increasing.
Cut health insurance
Soares said she would also like to explore the possibility of cutting town employee health insurance.
"I know we offer insurance to our employees, and we don't have to, but we do, and that is about $75,000 we could cut out of our budget if we had to if it's not economically viable to offer that to employees if cost keeps going up. I'm sure I'll be a hated person for saying these things, but that's OK. I have spoken to enough people to know they are not happy with how their money is spent by the town," Soares said.
McGillen said that without health insurance, the town would have a difficult time attracting qualified employees. "We need to have a competitive package because it is hard to compete with the bigger towns, and we need qualified professional officers, which we have and want to retain," McGillen said.